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Japanese trade volume and economic vitality is maritime dependent, the
navigational safety is the key for the Japanese economy and the daily life of
its people. As it connects Asia with Europe through the Suez Canal, the safety
and security of the Gulf of Aden, and the coastline along Somalia, is vital (The
Cabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual Report 2014, 2015, pp. 2) to
protect its national interests. Since approximately 2000 Japanese ships use
these shipping lanes annually (Shigeki Sakamoto, Slide 9), the nation’s
intervention continues to be one of the most urgent and critical issues for
Japan in this decade actions to ensure the vitality and safety of these
shipping lanes.  The Country’s challenge
was to determinate how much intervention is permitted under the Japanese constitution.


concerns with Persian Gulf region have its origins during the 1980s. Due to a
declining security environment, the Japanese government slowly introduced new
measures and law in order to counter these threats. Significantly, following
1992, 2003 with the beginning of the Second Gulf War, and 2005 Japan became
more interested in the security of the Persian Gulf Region and Indian Ocean as
a whole thus enlarging its long-held focus on the Asia-Pacific region (Fouad
Farhaoui 2016).

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paper will review the history, root causes, actions, justification, and the regional
and international responses to Somali piracy while using resources that present
both the world’s view on piracy and the words of the pirates themselves
spanning from their ‘roots’ in the early 1990s and through 2017. Considered
first will be the history of the pirates themselves which will include the proffered
justifications for piracy as well as actions (hijackings etc.) through the
period of the early 2000s up until 2017. Next, regional and international
initiatives to combat piracy will be discussed. Lastly, Japanese government
actions specifically concerning piracy will be addressed. It is important to
note that not every pirate attack or hijacking will be addressed as such is
beyond the scope of this paper, except reference will be made to certain
attacks if they have a particular impact on events.


is important to establish a clear definition of piracy. According to the United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), piracy is “any illegal acts
of violence or detention or any act of depredation, committed for private ends
by the crew or passengers of a private ship”, to which “is limited to the high
seas and places ‘outside the jurisdiction of any State'” (Elliot A. Anderson,
2010, pp. 320). The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a division of the
International Chamber of Commerce, defines piracy as “an act of boarding or
attempting to board any ship with the intent to commit theft or any other crime
with the intent or capability to use force in the furtherance of the act.” (Ursula
Daxecker and Brandon Prins, 2013, pp. 946). Thus, according to Ursula Daxecker
and Brandon Prins, “thus includes actual and attempted attacks against ships
whether they are anchored, berthed, or steaming in territorial or international
waters (Daxecker and Prins, 2013, pp. 946).


have been around for millennia – the Romans combating them for over a century
until only achieving victory after combined naval/terrestrial operations led by
Pompey1; the
British, Spanish, Portuguese encountering them in their overtures to the ‘new
world’2; and
the Japanese pirates which sailed the coasts of Japan, Korea, and China3 – are
a few examples which show that piracy is not new phenomena. Contemporarily
speaking, piracy has been witnessed in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Guinea,
Niger River delta, Malacca Strait, and around the Indian subcontinent
(Christopher Alessi and Stephanie Hanson, 2012, pp. 2).


According to Christian Bueger, numerous studies
have elaborated upon the environment most amenable to pirates:

– proximity to a major sea lane and maritime trafficking, as well as hideouts

law enforcement structures;

by officials and administrations (corruption);

degree of infrastructure, such as ports, markets or roads needed for the
logistics of running a piracy operation;

presence of a populace which can be recruited for piracy and which supports
operations with logistics;

and experience necessary to run an operations (eg navigation skills);

degree of cultural acceptability of piracy, which renders it a legitimate

levels of poverty and a lack of sources of income.

(Christian Bueger, 2013, pp. 1813-1814)


light of these characteristics presented by Bueger, the context of Somali piracy will be reviewed. Somalia is located
in Africa’s ‘Horn’ and rests below the Gulf of Aden, with  the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to its east
(Anderson, 2010, pp. 321). It is registered as one of the United Nations “least
developed countries” with an economy primarily relying on local agriculture
with some trade in cattle with no industrial capacity (Anderson, 2010, pp. 325-326).
The ‘roots’ of contemporary Somali piracy can be found in the early 1990s
Somalia. In 1991, the Government of Somalia, holding power since a coup in 1969,
collapsed (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 2). Soon after, the State descended into
conflict, claims of cessation (Republic of Somaliland and Puntland), a failed UN
peace mission ending in 1995, continuing civil war, conflicting claims of
domestic governments (between the Somalia Transitional Federal Institution
TFI in 2004 and later the Council of Islamic Courts CIC), and eventually witnessing
the rise of terrorism and the continuity of civil war (Anderson, 2010, pp. 324-325).


decades of civil war have impacted economic growth and opportunity, to a point
where one can characterize it as “informal at best” (Anderson, 2010, pp. 325). Since
the collapse of the government in 1991, which includes banking institutions,
there is essentially no functioning formal economy (Anderson, 2010, pp. 322). Somali
piracy can trace its origins to the poor/severely limited economic performance,
and the weak, nonexistent, or ineffective government institutions (Alessi and
Hanson, 2012, pp. 3). Somali’s long coastline and its unguarded ports provide
the environment conducive to piracy (Rick “Ozzie” Nelson and Brianna Fitch,
2012, pp. 1).


conditions also affected the Somali fishing industry which, “may have directly
contributed to the rise in piracy off the coast of Somalia.” (Anderson, 2010, pp.
326). The lack of economic prospects for fishermen is one of the most oft-cited
reasons for the rise of Somali piracy.4 (United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Oceans Beyond Piracy, 2015, pp. 1, 2, 4).
Additionally, following the collapse of government institutions, foreign
fishing vessels moved into those unguarded water and the resulting illegal
fishing adversely impacted Somali fishermen (United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime and Oceans Beyond Piracy, 2015, pp. 1, 2, 4; and Anderson, 2010, pp. 327;
and Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 2). Writing for TIME magazine and quoting a
2006 United Nations report, Ishaan Tharoor averred that, without a functioning
coast guard, “Somali waters have become the site of an international ‘free for
all,’ with fishing fleets from around the world illegally plundering Somali
stocks and freeing out the country’s own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen”
(Tharoor, 2009, pp. 1). According to Anderson, “Some pirates claim that they
turned to hijacking as a method to impede foreign vessels trying to destroy
their fishing boats and equipment and to inhibit illegal fishing” (Anderson,
2010, pp. 327) and thus became vigilantes under the guise of a pseudo-coast
guard in order to protect their fisheries. Somali fishermen also reported that
they were fired upon by foreign vessels using water cannons and weapons
(Tharoor, 2009, pp. 1). Therefore, as Rick “Ozzie” Nelson and Brianna Fitch write
for the Center For Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), “a lack of
economic opportunity and development, combined with devastating famines, has
boosted the allure of piracy for many Somalis” (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 1).


addition to the illegal fishing issues, various pirates also claimed the dumping
of toxic and nuclear waste on and near the Somali coast following the collapse
of the government required their intervention. Tharoor cites a UN Environmental
Program report released in 2005, that people living along the coast of Somalia
have complained of respiratory issues and skin diseases which are connected to
toxic and nuclear waste (Tharoor, 2009, pp. 2).

For a discussion on Pompeii’s operations on the Mediterranean pirates, as well
as a huge history of the Roman Army in general, see Patricia Southern’s The Roman Army: A History 753 BC – AD 476.
‘Pirates’ are listed on pages: 31, 136-137, 421-422.

For a quick overview on Europe’s encounter with pirates see

For a quick discussion on Japanese pirates (Wakou) – who were not all Japanese
– see

Per a joint report conducted by the United National Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC) and Oceans Beyond Piracy utilizing interviews with 66 pirates currently
serving time in Hargeisa prison in Somaliland, Montagne Posee Prison in
Seychelles, and Bosasso Prison residing in Puntland. 

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